On the Water - Future Islands

Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. Oct 11, 2011
    The record is sweetly evocative, swathed in meditative rhythms and lighthearted melodies.
  2. Oct 19, 2011
    On the Water sounds as fresh and exciting as anything you're likely to hear all year.
  3. Oct 10, 2011
    Now, on On the Water, they've paced themselves, slowed down the tempos, and left room for ambience, such that the album's fevered points hit much more poignantly.
  4. Oct 10, 2011
    Gorgeous and personal, the band has delivered a record that is not only the product of years of trial and error, but also the rarity of a truly talented storyteller.
  5. Nov 8, 2011
    It's heavy stuff, and there is a real rawness at the heart of standouts Where I Found You, Before The Bridge, Give Us The Wind and The Great Fire - all a little hard to swallow at first, but ultimately quite remarkable. [Nov. 2011, p. 128]
  6. Oct 26, 2011
    On the Water is a 'love album', but much more than that--seldom has a long player narrated so fluidly, consummately and lucidly, a journey of self-realization.
  7. 80
    Their dreamy, romantic and melancholy music is the perfect accompaniment to hope, the kind that can pull you through, and in a time of timidity, they are true believers.
  8. Oct 11, 2011
    Future Islands clearly wanted to tug some heartstrings this time around, and in the respect, On the Water is an unqualified success.
  9. Oct 11, 2011
    On the Water is surely one of the most unconventionally beautiful records of the year.
  10. 80
    In the end, there's solace in enjoying the refreshed music Future Islands continue to provide.
  11. Oct 10, 2011
    Water is leagues more mature than last year's In Evening Air--the production more robust, the lyrics more evocative of people who've been around long enough to know what's worth lamenting.
  12. Oct 19, 2011
    While On the Water may be a slow burn, the album grows only richer upon second and third listens.
  13. Oct 10, 2011
    Though treading familiar sonic and thematic waters at the start, On the Water really comes alive midway through.
  14. Nov 15, 2011
    Though it reveals apparent influences ranging from Eyeless in Gaza to Simple Minds, the Baltimore trio's third album finds the band updating rather than simply recreating. [#82, p. 55]
  15. Nov 17, 2011
    On The Water relies less on the vocals than its predecessor. The music is more robust, adding more layers than the minimalism of before.
  16. Despite the clear motives with the themes in the album, the instrumentation fluctuates in a chaotic manner that makes it very confusing to listen to at times.
  17. Oct 11, 2011
    [Closing number "Grease" is] equal parts sepulchral and redemptive, spiritually recalling David Bowie's Heroes, and providing a triumphantly exhilarating close to this superb Baltimore act's best album to date.
  18. Oct 10, 2011
    The concept is realised for the most part, and while some more variety in the 'musical memories' might have been nice (along with a little more length), there's not much to knock in a cracking example of that rare phenomenon--listenable concept art.
  19. Oct 19, 2011
    On the Water is too uncompromising, too disinterested in being for anyone outside of its circle of two.
  20. Jan 11, 2012
    The band's primary strength is their ability to harness cold electronica and synth sounds to deftly create earthy-sounding atmospherics... Stirring. [Dec. 2011 p.97]
  21. Oct 18, 2011
    The Trio's third album is similarly, unconventionally earnest, often doing for the New Romantics when Gayngs did for 10cc. [Nov 2011, p.84]
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 14 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. May 30, 2013
    In between listening to the first album from Future Islands and this endeavor, I had the privilege of attending one of their concerts. I was blown away by the passion and intimacy of the performance (especially by Samuel T. Herring). I was able to meet all of the band members, which created a more concrete bond between me and their music.

    They were already my favorite band of all time by then, of course, but this album further solidified my opinion. Amidst rumors that "On the Water" was going to be a slower-paced version of "In Evening Air," I was a bit hesitant that I'd like it as much. Fortunately, it was more finely tuned, personal and optimistic than I anticipated. It's hard to pick a favorite song, but mine are probably "Balance," "Before the Bridge" and "Give Us the Wind" (though "Where I Found You" is equally as impressive and heart-crushing).

    I often go back and listen to some of the earlier Future Islands and Art Lord records, but when I listen to one of the songs from this album again, it reminds me how finely tuned their music is now. I can't wait for the next one.
    Full Review »
  2. Nov 7, 2011
    Future islands is hands down my favorite band of 2011. Lead singer Sam Herring's voice is amazing, it regularly reminds me of the cowardly lion (but in a good way). As a child of the eighties any band that labels itself post wave is a-ok in my book. Give them a listen! Full Review »
  3. Oct 14, 2011
    Really enjoyable album, it may have staled a bit on the 6th, 7th listen, but I enjoy more than "In Evening Air." The songs are more developed, and there's more variety here than it's predecessor. It seems like the vocals are not as strong as In Evening Air, but the music definitely compensates. I'ts more subdued, but more powerful IMO. Right now, in my top 5 albums of the year. I am not particularly 80's nostalgic, but the band feels a bit like New Order with a much better singer. Can't wait to see them live! Full Review »